Acts | And they were all together in one place

We here at Sanctuary used to gather regularly in one place. So what happened? And what comes next? (Listen.)

Today is Pentecost, and so I’d love to talk about the intoxication of the spirit, or how her life-giving breath is poured into the world, giving inspiration, imagery and language to share good news with wildly diverse people. Or I’d love to talk about the theatre of flames, how people’s heads and hearts were set on fire, and how this led them to extend themselves for the sake and love of others. Or I could mention that Pentecost is a Jewish first fruits festival, celebrating the gift of the law, the making of a nation, and the harvest to come, and how the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost led to the formation of the church and a new harvest. But I am brought to a standstill by the words, ‘And they were all together in one place.’ Continue reading “Acts | And they were all together in one place”

1,2 Peter | A people founded on love

A community grounded in Christ will be humble, hospitable and loving. (Listen.)

‘You are a chosen race,’ writes Peter, ‘a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.’ Really? In the leadup to the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), at least half a dozen LGBTIQA+ events here in Victoria have been cancelled. In the media and online, some far-right ‘Christians’ are claiming an exclusive truth and ‘breathing threats and murder’ towards gay people, trans people, and others; councils are so worried they are shutting things down. Continue reading “1,2 Peter | A people founded on love”

Acts | The four devotions

Three key practices, no, four, shape a dynamic resurrection faith. (Listen.)

Whenever I hear this passage, I feel a cool, refreshing breeze blow through me. Imagine: the Holy Spirit roaring through town and creating hundreds of new disciples. Imagine: animated tables of friends and strangers sharing generous, joyful meals. Imagine: a passionate prayer life, a deep engagement with God, a trust in things beyond private wealth. Imagine: a world in which lives are shared, and everyone’s needs are met. Continue reading “Acts | The four devotions”

Luke | The road to newness

Through stranger, scripture and a meal shared our hearts may be set on fire. (Listen.)

They were devastated. The one on whom they’d pinned all their hopes and dreams had been executed and their hopes had died with him; now, even the body was gone. There was a rumour going around that the women had seen him: but it seemed to them an idle tale. So they left. They walked out of the city, away from all the terror and confusion, and as they walked they talked through their grief and fear, scepticism, bewilderment, perhaps even their sense of betrayal. Continue reading “Luke | The road to newness”

Matthew | Walking with fabulous friends and strangers against the forces of death

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem resembles a pride parade, and our guy is a clown. (Listen.)

I know I’m not the only person here who finds the palm parade a little awkward, a little cringe-worthy. We look ridiculous, waving jackets and branches as we sing our way into the building. But compared to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, it’s very tame indeed. Because in that story, you have a bloke on a wacky ride surrounded by a bunch of shirtless guys waving stuff and singing in public. It’s joyful, vulnerable, disruptive; and the modern equivalent which comes to mind is a pride parade. Continue reading “Matthew | Walking with fabulous friends and strangers against the forces of death”

Ezekiel | Dem dry colonial bones

A reflection for white settlers living on stolen land. (Listen.)

It’s tempting to reflect on the bones. The massacre site that is now a fast food restaurant just a couple of blocks from Sanctuary. The bones which still wash up from time to time on the beach near Peterborough. The babies’ bones buried six feet under at the missions. The bones which were scattered throughout the landscape, left to rot in every lake, valley and hollow, left lying in the paddocks to dry out in the sun. It’s tempting to focus on the bones: because our history and geography are studded with other people’s bones. Continue reading “Ezekiel | Dem dry colonial bones”

John | Trans/forming

To encounter Jesus is to invite change. (Listen.)

The crowd was in uproar. ‘It’s him,’ some said. ‘Don’t be stupid!’ said others, ‘It’s just someone like him.’ ‘I’m still me,’ she said, ‘and this is what happened.’ But nobody was listening. Instead, the religious leaders weighed in. ‘He changed at church, but it’s totally against the Bible,’ said some. But others wondered; and so they were divided. Continue reading “John | Trans/forming”

Matthew | Becoming holy guides

With faith-filled eyes, we see the extraordinary in the ordinary, and help others see it, too.

The ancient Jewish people, and the first followers of Jesus, lived life very much in this world. They were very aware of the earth beneath their feet as they travelled from place to place in their sandals. They were very aware of the sky above their heads: by day the sun or the clouds that bring rain to water their crops; by night the moon in its monthly cycles and the stars that moved across the sky and help to show the times and the seasons. Continue reading “Matthew | Becoming holy guides”

Matthew | So you’re God’s child. Now what?

Being God’s children is never in question. It’s what we do next that counts. (Listen.)

‘Since you’re the son of God,’ says the devilish examiner in Matthew’s story, ‘turn these stones to bread.’ Use your power for your own ends. Whip up a miracle, and feed yourself. ‘Since you’re the son of God,’ says the examiner, ‘jump off The Pinnacle.’ Create a spectacle, sell tickets, hold a circus. Let everyone see God’s angels save you: it’ll be great advertising for your little movement. And anyway, it’s all in scripture. According to Psalm 91, ‘The angels will catch you and raise you up — you won’t even stub your toe!’ (vv. 11-12). Continue reading “Matthew | So you’re God’s child. Now what?”

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